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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Course near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Clay AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Clay AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Clay AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Clay AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Clay AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Clay AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Clay AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Clay AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Clay AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Clay AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Clay AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Clay home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clay AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Clay Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clay Alabama.